Vancouver Latin American Film Festival
First time director José Luiz Villamarim and well known Brazilian cinematographer Manuel Alberto Claro have created a film which resonates on a number of levels. The plot unfolds during the afternoon and evening of Christmas Eve, as Luzimar is riding his bicycle home from working as a supervisor at his small town’s cotton factory and his wife is at home preparing a special meal for the occasion. He happens to meet up with a friend from childhood, Gildo, who abandoned the town as a young adult, moving to Sao Paulo in search of a better life. As the two decide to have a beer together, Gildo cannot help commenting on his fancy car and Luzimar’s bicycle beside one another on the street.
One beer turns into several and the inevitable ‘whirlpool’ begins to take shape. Pleasant memories are soon abandoned as the underbelly of the past comes to light and a shared pivotal moment from their youth is finally exposed. That shared experience continues to have repercussions for many others in the town, including Luzimar’s wife.
Recurring images, beautifully captured by Claro, add to the plot. “Whirlpool” opens with a shot of a bridge during pouring rain. In a later scene, the bridge reappears, with some children on it. Another scene involves Gildo telling Luzimar about an important encounter on the bridge. As well, the train, which runs regularly through the small town beside the bridge, both defines and obstructs the lives of the town’s residents.
Sound is integral to this film. In the opening scene, the rain pouring on the bridge is torrential and loud. The countryside nearby is very quiet. Both the cotton factory and the trains are disturbingly noisy. Luzimar’s hearing aid, which he chooses to remove at times, is as much a metaphor as a sound-amplifying device.
“Whirlpool” is a beautifully filmed movie exploring how one event can have lasting consequences which influence the life choices of many people.
“Whirlpool will be shown again on Thursday, August 31st, at 5:00 pm – The Cinematheque.